Category: Issues

By Kyle Wingfield A summertime surprise is roiling the Georgia GOP’s gubernatorial primary. A defeated candidate recently released a recording in which Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said he supported a school-choice bill he deemed “bad policy,” merely to prevent a big campaign donation to a rival candidate. Now Cagle, who faces Secretary of State Brian Kemp in next month’s runoff, is on the defensive. Whatever one makes of the politics of it all, was this bill truly “bad” policy? Not in the least. House Bill 217 raised the cap on the state’s popular tuition tax-credit scholarship program to $100 million from $58 million. The program allows donors to non-profits awarding scholarships for private-school tuition to claim a dollar-for-dollar credit against… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd Eighty percent of Georgia’s students graduate from high school. What happens to the one in five who don’t? Michael Boggs, now a Georgia Supreme Court Justice, was co-chairman of the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform when he remarked that he counted just 34 high school graduates among the first 6,000 criminal defendants he dealt with in felony criminal court in six rural counties. Twenty-five years ago, concerned about a report that declared high school dropouts the greatest domestic threat to national security, U.S. Sens. Sam Nunn of Georgia and John McCain of Arizona formed the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program. Today, 40 Youth ChalleNGe Academy programs exist in 27 states and territories, turning around the… View Article

Council’s Misdemeanor Bail Reform Proposals

A summary of the misdemeanor bail reform findings and recommendations from the February 2018 Report of the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform (pages 25-39). By Sophia Strickland The Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform’s 2018 report delivered to Gov. Nathan Deal in February focused on pretrial justice, especially within misdemeanor bail practices. According to the report: An increasing amount of research is showing the negative consequences of a money-based bail system. Those people who cannot afford bail and therefore incarcerated pretrial could lose their jobs or go into further financial debt or lose their jobs, and then cannot support their families or pay the court-imposed fines or obligations. In fact, studies show that people who are released on bail,… View Article
By Sophia Strickland Reports on the United States’ rapidly increasing incarcerated population have sparked a discussion over bail reform. However, a segment that may not receive as much attention in this area is the pretrial, incarcerated rural population, which has contributed disproportionately to the increasing jailed population in the United States, according to a new report by Right On Crime. Nationwide, the jailed population increased three times its original size between 1970 and 2014  but sevenfold in small counties in the same period. The increase in this rural pretrial jailed group can be partly attributed to an economic incentive for local jails to house other jurisdictions’ inmates for remuneration and the growing opioid crisis with increased related drug arrests… View Article
By Dave Emanuel As the hue and cry for expanded public transit in metro Atlanta reaches a crescendo, many options are being discussed, but chatter about extending heavy rail predominates. You have to wonder why. The only thing lacking in the proposals to expand heavy rail is a specification to use steam locomotives. Add that, and you have the perfect 19th-century solution to a 21st-century problem. An outmoded form of transportation at best, heavy rail (defined as rail service elevated, subterranean or otherwise separated from street traffic) is expensive to build, operate and maintain, and inefficient in its use of resources. Consider that a single MARTA passenger car weighs 89,000 pounds and accommodates 64 passengers. Consider, further, that the typical… View Article
By Ryan Streeter Do you know why most people are poor, and what would make them better off? Mauricio Miller is pretty sure you do not. In “The Alternative: Most of What You Believe About Poverty Is Wrong,” he argues that people involved in anti-poverty work today regularly do more harm than good. In fact, he fires staffers within his organization who simply “help” poor families. Low-income families, Miller says, need to be aided to solve their own problems, not temporarily rescued with outside resources. “Helping” people may sound charitable, but it keeps the helper in control, makes the beneficiary dependent and only offers short-term boosts. In Miller’s view, it doesn’t matter if someone is dependent on government aid or… View Article

Embrace Student Loan Debt, Don’t Erase It

By Jeffrey Dorfman The total of all student loan debt just hit $1.5 trillion, so prepare for a slew of stories telling you how student loan debt is out-of-control and we must reform the program to avoid a crisis. Ignore the hype. The reality is that most borrowers are using student loans responsibly, graduate with a perfectly reasonable amount of debt, and are making a smart investment. Given the excellent return on investment from college educations, why is society acting like student loan debt is a problem? Instead, we should be glad so many people are acting in a way that will make the country better off in the long run. Since the start of the 2007-2009 recession, the… View Article
The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Sunday edition on May 12, 2018, quoted Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd in a feature article by Shelia M. Poole and Michael E. Kanell on a proposal to reform public housing rent. The article, “Proposed HUD rent reforms have locals worrying, wondering,” can be accessed online here and is reprinted in full below. Proposed HUD rent reforms have locals worrying, wondering By Shelia M. Poole and Michael E. Kanell As the door to his home opens, Tony Caldwell, 58, shifts his wheelchair slightly to accommodate his guests. The former delivery driver for a concession machine company lives in Westminster Apartments, a 32-unit, generic-looking, two-floor apartment complex, fenced off from the surrounding Piedmont Park area… View Article

Take a Deep Breath before Blaming Ozone for Asthma

By Harold Brown The American Lung Association emphasizes the bad news and mentions the good. Its State of the Air 2018 report (using 2014-2016 data) claims that “ozone pollution worsened significantly.” It is clear, however, that the air in Georgia has become cleaner and healthier. Atlanta had an average of 66 days per year from 2000 to 2010 that were “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” but only 21 days per year from 2011-2016 (see chart). The two pollutants most blamed for the “unhealthy” air have decreased. Ozone (4th maximum 8-hour concentration) decreased 27 percent from 2000 to 2017, while tiny particles (PM2.5) dropped by 50 percent. Respiratory disease causes, changes in the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations and environmental advocates’ claims have… View Article
By Martha Nesbit May 7-11 is National Charter Schools Week. This commentary, celebrating Georgia’s first start-up public charter school and the 20th anniversary of the state’s 1998 legislation, is based on remarks by Martha Nesbit at the Georgia Charter Schools Association Annual Conference on March 7, 2018. The story I will tell you sounds like it could not possibly be true, but it is, because it happened to me! From 1974 to 1986 I was food editor of The Savannah Morning News. Then I gave up my wonderful job to become a stay-at-home mom for our two little boys. But we really needed money, so I agreed to teach preschool at the church less than a mile from our home… View Article

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has been doing important work for the free enterprise movement for the past 20 years.  I can assure you from the vantage of a non-profit think tank in Washington, D.C. with much the same principles as GPPF that the work we do simply would not be possible if it were not for the important work that GPPF does.  We see it, we understand it, it is an inspiration to us, it is the kind of thing that will translate into the important work that we can do in Washington, D.C.  We thank you very much for that.

Arthur Brooks, President, American Enterprise Institute (2011) more quotes